Each month we highlight an Ohio 4-H alumnus. They have amazing stories to share, from their personal experience in 4-H to how they have given back to the program. This month we feature Jeff Hullinger, the lead pilot for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital helicopter EMS transport team and a Williams County 4-H alumnus.
Hullinger got his start in 4-H in his hometown of Bryan and spent 10 years involved in the Williams County 4-H program. During his time as a 4-H’er, he took many projects, including a dairy feeder calf, beef steers, rabbits, model rocketry, remote control airplanes/helicopters, cooking, sewing, and woodworking. He attended both National 4-H Congress and National 4-H Conference and served as a 4-H camp counselor. While being a camper and counselor were favorite activities, Hullinger said, “Meeting new friends, traveling to new places, and learning new projects gave me great memories too.”
Hullinger’s 4-H experience helped him discover his passion for aviation and his dream of being a pilot. “At the age of 10, I knew I wanted to become a pilot. I just didn’t know how I would achieve that dream; I just knew I wanted to fly. 4-H helped stoke my interest in flying and learning about it. It gave me a supportive organization and network to build towards fulfilling my dream.”
After 4-H, Hullinger continued his service by enlisting in the Marine Corps. “While a Marine, I was selected for the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program. I attended The Ohio State University and received a bachelor of science in aviation management and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. I became a helicopter pilot flying CH-53E Super Stallions with deployments that took me to Djibouti, Africa; Fallujah, Iraq; Central and South America; and Helmand River Province of Afghanistan. My last duty assignment was as a presidential helicopter pilot. Now I work as an EMS helicopter pilot flying an EC145 (Monarch 1) for Nationwide Children’s Hospital. I also volunteer for Angel Flight East and LifeLine Pilots using my personal airplane to fly patients to medical treatments and appointments.”
Not only did 4-H give Hullinger the resources to reach his goals, it also provided life skills and knowledge he still uses today. “4-H taught me to use my HEAD to learn new skills and work through challenges. To use my HEART to be compassionate and empathetic to others, and to help others when they need it. To use my HANDS to work towards something greater, for myself and my community. And to use my HEALTH to live a clean, healthy life, to be a better me.”
“I learned a great work ethic,” said Hullinger. “I had opportunities to exercise communication and public speaking. I was able to learn new skills and information that were not available in a school environment. There were many intangible experiences and lessons learned, and 4-H had a positive impact in making me who I am today.”
With the impact 4-H had on him, Hullinger shared this advice for today’s 4-H members. “If you have a dream of doing something you love, don’t let anything stand in your way. If you have a dream, go for it. 4-H is a great organization that can help you be better prepared to enable you to realize your dream. Do what you love, and love what you do.”
Fun fact: You may have seen Jeff Hullinger at an Ohio State football game. He was an Ohio State varsity cheerleader from 1997–2000.